Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cruel Beginning.

When you have a Garmin cycle computer, you can upload it on the internet. All your data, where you went, what your heart rate was, your speed, your cadence...anything really, can be uploaded all onto one site. Thousands of people do it from all over the world. The front page of the site tells you little interesting stats about the collective garmin usership. For example, if you add up all the kilometres travelled by people with garmins, it's enough kilometres to have gone to the moon and back several thousand times. And enough calories burned for something like a billion lollies.

So, yeh, sometimes i wonder whether Garmin is selling all this data to governments, so that they can have the most detailed data system about global athletes ever made. I'm not sure why governments would want this in the first place, but I'm prepared to believe that it's happening. ASIO could learn a lot from my training habits, so they know exactly where to get me when I'm most vulnerable, like on Kew Boulie at 9pm, or when I've been dropped by Gene on a hill and I don't have anyone to protect me.

Yeh, I often wonder about that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

As The Guards March Me Out To The Courtyard.

As pathetic as it may seem, the closest I have probably been to a religious experience, was when i first saw Iron Maiden.

Despite the years listening to music, and the changes in taste I have undergone, Iron Maiden remains a staple.

Nothing has ever, repeat never, come close to the experience of seeing them on stage. To say iot was transcendental is embarrassing, but true. It will be a time i remember until the day i die.

To be fair, it was perhaps the crowds response that was most exciting. Everyone was incredibly happy to see this band after 16 years. I have never heard a roar so loud.

But as i listen to more punk music, and move away from the 'stock metalheads soundtrack', I can't move away from Iron Maiden. Something in their music moves me in a way that I can't put a finger on.

An Iron Maiden concert is like the theatre. The music is just one part of the entire spectacle. Costume changes, fireworks, lazers-things that are largely rejected as pompous by almost all my favourite bands-are things that make an Iron Maiden concert seem larger than life, as if you are seeing a true show. Not only that, but Bruce has a way of making it seem as if the show is for you, and that you two alone feel this surge of pure unadulterated joy. But then you look around, and you aren't alone. You're surrounded by people who feel exactly the same.

All these people who have entirely forgotten where they are, for a moment spell bound by this unifying moment.

It's pretty bizarre that a band like Maiden has created this phenomenon. I certainly don't understand it, or have any inclination to find out.

It's just a bit magical.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Coming Of The Storm.

You Can Roll Your Eyes!

And For A Second

When you live in a different country, especially one that speaks another language, you find that you develop a different personality, to fit that particular country.

When I lived in Italy, I had my 'Italian' personality, where certain ways of thinking, speaking, and gesturing were the norm. I also had my Australian personality, which manifested itself differently. Being a kid probably made this even more noticeable.

When it gets to the point when you begin to think in Italian, to see structure and patterns in the world differently than you would have in the Australian context, things become interesting.

I would often go to school, where my thought processes and real world interactions did not even come near my Australian self. The longer you stay in that place, the stronger that character becomes. I imagine if I had stayed, my Australian self would have slowly disappeared, until I was simply an Italian kid.

I remember sitting in the plane in early 2003, on the way home to Australia, being very excited about going home, but also aware that the personality i had developed in Italy, and spent so long despising, had recently become an important part of the way I looked at the world.

As the plane sped up, that roar it makes just before take off filling my ears, I recall being sadly melancholy, despite my excitement. As I watched the suburbs of Rome slip away behind cloud banks, I think i felt a bit torn between worlds. I had spent most of my life in Australia, but some important formative ones in Italy. I guess this limbo lasted the course of the flight.

We we arrived at Tullamarine airport, and eventually hopped into a taxi to head home, the driver turned around and looked at us. He was an older Australian bloke.
"Where to guys?"
"Elsternwick thanks."
"No worries!

I'm not sure what it was, but that phrase, said in that particular accent brought back all these memories of home, and I distinctly remember feeling my Italian self almost die entirely in that one moment. That way of speaking, thinking, and expressing myself seemed a million miles away. It just didn't mesh with the world i was in now.

Occasionally I find snippets of the remnants of that frame of mind. Little turns of phrase, or ways in which i tackle certain problems. But for the most part, James the italian kid is gone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Strike Of Midnight.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a writer. At around the age of 12, after writing the start of dozens of stories, and finishing none of them, I realised it was really hard, and dismissed the idea.

Since then I have held vague ideas about doing some profession which requires me to use my brain, and not much else.

However, with my increasing interest in all things mechanical in the past three years, and my re-emerging interest in the written word (creative rather than academic) I think maybe I should be re-routing my life in another direction.

That's what next year is for. No uni, no structure. I'm gonna ride bikes, fix bikes, read books, and write stuff. Knowing me I am fairly certain I will run into patches of despair, creative depression, rage and probably indifference.

But I'll get through it. Who knows what new skills I might have by the end of next year?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Riders of the North

You know when a band you love turns out to represent awful politics or hate? Yeh....I hate that.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't Waste Your Time.

I fucking love watching Iron Maiden footage from central and south America. It truly overshadows any western crowd.

Then to observe all the old, battle hardened metal heads, acknowledge that they really are living through the 'golden years'.

Gone Are The Days.

Today I rode about a bit on my track bike, had lunch on Sydney Rd, came home, had a coffee, lounged around reading Ulysses, and listened to Bane.

It was fucking pleasant.

As the heat of the day permeated around the city, and that hot wind cut through the wide streets of Northside, I couldn't but help be stirred a bit.

Summer's been a long time coming.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Best Friends By My Side.

So i finished my first Northern Combine season by getting dropped on the same course i got fifth on in my first race.

It kinda sucked. Rather than getting better this winter, i seem to have only gone backwards, and I can't understand why.

I have decided two things though: if things don't come good within a month, I am seeing a doctor, pulling out of Tour of Bright (cos I have better things to do then pay money to get dropped), and just ride about a bit with no structure. Then, next year, i am going to get a program, stick to it, and see what happens.

It makes me excited about what I might achieve.

Friday, September 16, 2011

God Damn!

Today my friend and housemate Cat, brought a cat home.

It's name is Captain, it is sort of brownish, has funny markings, and is social as all hell. It also tried to climb the chimney, and failed.

It seems to have taken a liking to me, but i suspect that is more due to my not having gone out to party tonight.

At the moment it is sitting in bed with me, cleaning itself, and getting its fur all over my belongings.

He seems quite pleasant.

I'm a bit worried about the logistics of having a cat in a share house, especially given the attention span of my particular house mates.

That being said, i got a good feeling about this cat (in that it behaves a bit like a dog) and I suspect Captain and I are going to be good friends.

He also seems to like hardcore.

Lucky he's a boy, i don't see many girls in that scrum.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Outside of the Rider's Domain

Brendan said that a post i did a few days ago read like "a bad extract from Kurt Cobain's diary".

Fair enough, I'll try and refrain from the cardigan vibe.

As most of you know I have been going fairly crazy over the band Wolves in the Throne Room. When i write my thesis (which is every day) i tend to listen to them, and sometimes Burzum, as it creates a nice background 'white noise' kinda vibe, which actually helps me think.

Despite loving their music, I am aware that these guys are class A wankers. Punk kids way too into deep ecology, they have built up an entire philosophical repertoire by which to live. This is to be admired, partly because, just like Fugazi, they actually follow through with their way of life. This involves living on a farm in Washington state, producing their own food, and by and large ignoring the capitalist, consumerist society which they live in. They have even taken steps to limit where they play, when they do, and how much it costs (again, kinda like Fugazi).

But, they also say kind ridiculous stuff about the nature of black metal. They have rejected the US 'scene', stating it is a far more solitary pursuit than that. This i can accept as true. But saying things like "If you listen to black metal, but you don't know what phase the moon is in, or which flowers are in bloom, you have missed the point."

This has led to a lot of hipster fans to get upset. Partly because they live in upstate New York, and there are no wild forests through which to wander. And while what the band says is kinda wanky, it's also kinda true insofar as black metal requires more of the listener than your average power pop band.

Not because it's inherently elitist, but because you have to engage much more with it before you come to understand it. So it becomes difficult to jump on the black metal bandwagon when the music is so immediately inaccessible. And while we might think what the band is doing is a bit over the top, a bit pompous, we can't help but acknowledge that they are taking their deep ecology, eco feminist, green anarchy, to its logical conclusion. They believe their music is a gateway to the natural world, and a closer affinity with it. This makes it harder to talk about liking the music, but not the message, as a lot of trend jumping tends to do. After all, it's the image that you want to convey, not an appreciation for the music itself.

This is why I don't think BM will stay in the cool kids repertoire for long. Kinda like riding a track bike on the street, its inherently too time consuming, too annoying, and too difficult to do, if all you wish to achieve is seem cool. There are easier and better ways to do it.

But for the few people who hold on, who get it, there's an amazing world waiting for them. A world where it almost seems as if time stands still.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hell, I Wanna Know.

Today I woke up and felt like, to quote Bilbo Baggins, "butter spread over too much bread."

Sore, lethargic, tired, it was all i could do to not stay in bed. The presence of strangers in the bak garden holding chain saws (that's another story) was enough, however, to get me up and about.

But, it makes me wonder. Sure, i raced hard on Sunday, did a bit of lifting on Monday, and rode a bit on Tuesday...but it's hardly as if my physical schedule is off the chain. What the fuck is wrong with me? Is my body just unable to cope with physical stress?

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fuck You and Your College Dream.

So I raced the first ever cyclocross state championships on Sunday.

I raced rubbish, hurt a lot, and old mate Munners won it in fine style.

The real lesson I'm taking home from the whole cyclocross season is the necessity for me to warm up properly.

Every race I have done well in, I have warmed up really well beforehand. Cross racing and its social aspect does me no favours here, where i mill about, fuck about, and before i know it, i have to race.

In cross racing, the heart rate spikes from the first minute, and never lets up, so I never have a chance to recover from my lactic thresh hold.

Every race i spend the first 15-20 minutes feeling like death, lose heaps of time to other racers, then by about 25 minutes in i come good, begin to gain ground, but by then it's too late.

Sunday's race panned out much like that but, as the race went on, i could feel my self getting angrier. Largely due to frustration at my shit position, but also just from the race itself. I felt angry, and toward the end, I started pushing the pedals down harder, my frustration ignoring my bodily pain.

It's made me think. I was once an angry person, when i was younger. Since then I've calmed down dramatically. But maybe it would be better to bring back that rage when i race.

Maybe it would make me go faster. And that's gotta be a good thing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Farewell to Great Friends

It's much, much easier to not care, to dismiss a problem as beyond your means, or your control.

But i find, when it's easiest not to care, it's indicative of when it is most important to take a fucking stand.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Full Capabilities

One thing that I have noticed with the onset of my taking racing more seriously, as well as eating a vegan diet, is my taking immense pleasure from supposedly boring foods.

So, I wanna talk about Heinz baked beans. My love affair started in the hours after the Hell of the West road race a few months ago. I had been dropped hard, spent about two hours by myself, and had crossed the line dazed and famished. On the way home, we stopped at a servo, and Brendan suggested we get some beans.

I have always been pretty snobby about canned foods, figuring they must be gross. But i was so hungry and so tired, I didn't think twice. I ate those baked beans cold, with my finges, in the back of Brendan's car, as he and Sam Mcgregor talked about something or other.

The taste was so overwhelmingly good, i wolfed the entire can in about five minutes, and immediately wanted more. Since then, I have been eating about three of those cans a week, generally eating half a can for breakfast, usually with spinach on toast.

And i look forward to it every freakin morning! Since becoming vegan, little parts of my diet that i once wouldn't have considered difficult to find (like treats) are suddenly precious discoveries. I can't scoff any old chocolate, so finding one that you can immediately becomes a little ritual.

Brendan Brazier is right about one thing. As my diet has changed (largely for the better) I have started craving good foods, like i once craved sugary ones. Sometimes i get home and all i can think about is salad, or avocado...or beans.

I imagine this could be related back to some kind of lesson relating to the 'simple pleasures in life', but I don't feel like making any connections today.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Turn it Up

If anyone ever asks you to route the cables for a di2 setup through the down tube of a bike...say no.

Assuming you only have your one life to offer with which to complete this task.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tell 'Em Where You're From

An aspect of 'training' that i really enjoy is the necessity of heading on odd routes, and subsequently seeing interesting things.

If you ride only when you want to, you always choose the nicest route that is convenient. However, when you follow some kind of schedule, where the importance is what you do, rather than where you can go, you eventually start pulling routes out of nowhere, deciding where to turn as you go.

The last few weeks during my easy rides with Brendan, and Gene and Jeremy when they can make it, we've gone through some Epping back roads, some bike paths around Altona, some twisting back roads of Hampton, train lines and industrial complexes over Footscray way, as well as various other little roads too and fro. Everyone contributes a little something here and there, according to where they know the lay of the land the most. All this in the past two weeks!

I have lived in Melbourne almost all of my life, and I still to this day enjoy the roads of my youth, only vague projections in my head, become tangible again, realising I am riding down a road my dad and I used to drive down on the way to North Carlton to get fish for dinner. Or having no idea where you are, only to emerge out from a labyrinth of back streets to find yourself somewhere you know, and now confident that you can get home. And slowly, as you get older, you realise you have an anecdote, or a friend's anecdote, or a memory, or a song to relate your own situation back to more and more landmarks. In others words, you become more intrinsically involved with the city you live in. Parts of you begin to spread around its confines, representing parts of your life that have past, are ongoing, or perhaps are even yet to come.

These are small victories, to be sure, but I like to think as I become more aware of how the different roads snake through Melbourne, and how they relate to each other, I become more aware of my own position in this city. As i become more confident with how the city works, I become more attached to this place.

It's kind of a rad feeling.

Sore Winners.

For some reason, this song really reminds me of long wet road rides, where you sink into a sort of trance, where you recognise that there is some unpleasantness ahead...but that it will result in a warm feeling in your belly that signifies your knowledge that you accomplished something.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hostile Crossfire

Sometimes you create (or help create) something.

Occasionally it fizzles out, sometimes it takes on dimensions of its own.

When something you helped make takes on the dimensions you originally intended to lampoon, you know it has well and truly become bigger than its creators.

No one is at fault. You can blame those involved who didn't get it, you can blame observers for not understanding, or you can blame yourself for being so stupid as getting involved in something that had the potential to spiral out of its original confines.

All you can do is laugh.

But when you get persecuted for a manifestation of your creation you had no say in, then something has to be fucking done.

The Helpless Won't Survive

It's student election time at Melbourne Uni at the moment.

Up until this year, I always voted, and had a bit of a crack at trying to sift through the rhetoric.

Not this year though. With the Young Liberals and the Young Labour basically fronting the same party, and the so called 'radical' parties being made up of smug socialists or patronising media-com students, I want nothing to do with it.

When challenged as to my lack of interest, I want to turn around and explain to them the rage I feel about the state of the university, the city, the country. I want to sit them down and ask them whether offering me a choice between a dipstick in a blue shirt and a dipstick in a red shirt is meant to represent electoral choice, or electoral freedom.

But i don't. I stutter, I shrug, and make some bullshit excuse.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Brendan is right. A film about a happy couple, where the woman falls pregnant, has an abortion, and then lives happily ever after, just wouldn't fucking float in hollywood.

Fuck that.